Australia

‘The most divisive prime minister’: Anthony Albanese hits out at Scott Morrison on election day

On the day of the election, Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has criticised Prime Minister Scott Morrison and implored Australians to vote for a change of government.
“We’ve outlined our plan for strengthening Medicare, for cheaper childcare, for making more things here, for acting on climate change, for having a national anti-corruption commission and for uniting the country,” Mr Albanese told the ABC on Saturday morning.
“This Prime Minister is the most divisive I’ve ever seen.
“One way we can unite the country is to advance a voice to parliament [for First Nations peoples].”
Mr Albanese once again called for the minimum wage to be raised by a dollar and criticised Mr Morrison over the issue.
Mr Morrison first called Mr Albanese a “loose unit” when he called for wages to rise to match inflation at 5.1 per cent, but later changed his discourse to claim that he welcomed higher wage after pressures over the cost of living.

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“One of the issues in this campaign has been whether people who are on the minimum wage of $20.33 an hour, they should get just one dollar, one dollar an hour increase,” Mr Albanese said.
“This government, this prime minister, thinks they shouldn’t, he thinks they should go further back.
“This country cannot afford three more years of the same.
“That’s why today I want people to vote for a better future.
Mr Morrison told Australians to vote for him for what he claims will be a better economy, even when asked about whether he would prioritise a referendum on a voice to parliament for First Nation peoples.
“We believe there needs to be a consensus in order for there to be a successful referendum on constitutional recognition. We have always said that, but that consensus does not exist at this point in time,” Mr Morrison told the ABC on Saturday morning.
“I hope one will in the future, and when one does, I think we will be able to move forward. But the overwhelming priority that I have for our government is to ensure that we keep that economy strong, because if you can’t do that and you can’t manage money, you can’t invest in care, you can’t invest in the National Disability Insurance Scheme, you can’t invest in aged care.”
Mr Morrison also said that voting for independent candidates, who have become an increasing threat to the Coalition this election, would make the government weaker.

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“A vote for an independent is a vote for a parliament in chaos and governments having to negotiate their existence every single day at a time of great uncertainty — both in terms of the economic pressures on Australia from around the world and on our international security situation.
“And that’s why I would encourage and counsel against voting for those independents, because that will only make the Australian parliament we get and an Australian government weaker.”

Independent candidates have largely been campaigning on climate change and more integrity.

What’s expected to come

Australia is expected to get its sixth prime minister in nine years.
When polls open on Saturday, ballots will be cast for 1203 candidates across the 151 seats in the House of Representatives.
As well, 421 Senate candidates are vying for 40 seats across the states and territories.
When 6pm rolls around, the ballots of more than 17 million voters will start to be counted, including those of more than five million people who voted early.
Mr Morrison’s Liberal-National government heads into the election holding 75 seats, having lost the WA seat of Stirling in a redistribution.

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Labor starts with 68 seats, plus notionally the new Victorian seat of Hawke.
The major parties will need 76 seats for a majority in the lower house.
Opinion polls are averaging 53.5 per cent to Labor on a two-party preferred basis, according to The Poll Bludger website, which if reflected at the ballot box would result in 83 seats for the ALP.
The latest Newspoll, published in the Australian on Friday night, shows Labor holding a 53-47 lead. That’s despite a two point drop in the party’s primary vote to 36 per cent.
Mr Morrison, who campaigned in Perth on Friday, said the election would be close.
“Australians weigh up their decision very, very carefully,” the Liberal leader said.
“What Australians will be wanting to know is what certainty and security can they have going forward for them and their families?”
Mr Albanese — who campaigned in South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria on Friday — said many people who had voted Liberal all their lives were now walking away from the party.
“There’s three more years of the same, or there’s myself, who wants to bring the country together, who wants to be inclusive, who wants to end the division,” Mr Albanese said.

— Additional reporting by AAP

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